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House conservatives sabotage Boehner plan to end shutdown
Collapse had senators trying to restart talks
Question of the Day
Emerging from an evening closed-door meeting with Mr. Boehner, Rep. Pete Sessions told reporters they were no longer going to put the House bill on the floor Tuesday.
“We are going to be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions,” Mr. Sessions said.
Earlier Tuesday, the GOP thought it had a solution. In a meeting of the entire House GOP conference, Mr. Boehner presented a plan to reopen the government through Dec. 15, to raise the debt ceiling through early February, to repeal the medical device tax in Obamacare, to require Mr. Obama and his top aides to take part in the health exchanges, and to stiffen income verification for those getting government subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
But by the end of the two-hour meeting it was clear there was dissent, and Mr. Boehner told reporters they were still working on the plan.
By Tuesday afternoon, they had narrowed the bill down to just the requirement that Mr. Obama and top political appointees take part in the health exchanges, without the benefit of government subsidies to pay their premiums.
“If Obamacare is good for members of Congress, then it’s good for the president,” said Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican.
A vocal group of conservatives rebelled again, though, forcing the GOP to scrap that new bill.
“It was going to raise the debt ceiling hundreds of billions of dollars with no change in spending,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Kansas Republican, told CNN.
The conservatives were prodded by Heritage Action, a pressure group that has demanded Republicans refuse to fund any of the government unless Mr. Obama agrees to cancel Obamacare.
Even amid the government shutdown, most of Obamacare is up and running, because it is based on independent funding, not on the annual spending bills.
Those bills were due to pass by Sept. 30. Without them, the government went into a partial shutdown on Oct. 1. Some employees in the Defense Department have been let back on the job, but about 350,000 government workers remain on furlough, most national parks are closed, the Internal Revenue Service isn’t issuing refunds and a host of other functions have halted.
Amid the GOP wrangling, Senate negotiations — which began on Saturday and which both sides said were bearing fruit — halted.
Mr. Reid, Senate Democrats’ leader, was incensed at Mr. Boehner’s attempt to try to fashion his own bill.
“We felt blindsided,” Mr. Reid said.
Mr. Reid personally attacked Mr. Boehner, saying he is kowtowing to “extreme” elements of the GOP in order to maintain his speakership.
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